Customs of the Twelve Months with Kyoka: Fifth Month
signed (mostly trimmed off) Utamaro ga with kao seal in shape of a Daruma doll ('Uta' in a circle, 'maru'), and Waka publisher seal (Wakasaya Yoichi of Jakurindo), ca. 1790-91
chuban tate-e 9 5/8 by 6 3/4 in., 24.5 by 17 cm
From an untitled series depicting scenes from festivities throughout the year. A woman holding a small boy kneels beside a large banner decorated with an image of a fiercely scowling Shoki, the legendary Chinese General and demon-queller. The infant seems to recoil slightly, clutching at her kimono, while a young girl stands nearby suppressing a giggle at the child's apparent fear. Images of Shoki were thought to ward off evil spirits and oni (devils) in particular, and were often employed as a protection from illness. The fearless General is also associated with The Boys' Festival which was celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month. The kyoka poem is by Koma no Asahaya.
Shugo Asano and Timothy Clark, The Passionate Art of Kitagawa Utamaro, 1995, text, p. 113 (on series)
Gina Collia-Suzuki, The Complete Woodblock Prints of Kitagawa Utamaro, A Descriptive Catalogue, 2009, p. 296-297 (illus.)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Milmine Collection, accession no. 53.2393
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